©Colette Lewis 2013--
The opening day of play at the Eddie Herr International saw seven No. 1 seeds in action, and all of them breezed to first round victories, with one major exception. In the boys 18s, ITF World No. 1 Alexander Zverev of Germany was upset by Sameer Kumar 3-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(5).
Kumar, a 16-year-old from Indiana, received entry into the 18s by virtue of an exemption given to the top-ranked US player in the 16s, and he was a decided underdog to the 16-year-old Italian Open champion and French Open boys finalist. Played on the far reaches of the IMG Bollettieri Academy property, which is a tram ride away from the majority of the courts, the match between World No. 1 and No. 448 wasn't expected to go the distance. But as word began to circulate that Kumar had won the second set, the crowd grew, and Prince, a major of the sponsor of the tournament and maker of Kumar's racquet, sent their cameraman, on site for an advertising shoot, to record the upset in the making.
Zverev served for the match at 5-4 in the third set, but never got to match point, with Kumar earning a break point at 30-40 when Zverev couldn't finish his first volley at the net and couldn't handle Kumar's pass. Kumar converted the break point when Zverev hit a forehand long, a call that Zverev disputed, but when the roving umpire was called to check the mark, he let Kumar's call stand.
Kumar held at 15 to take a 6-5 lead, and Zverev held despite a couple of unforced errors to send the match into the tiebreaker.
Kumar got a minibreak early, and another to lead 5-1, when Zverev made yet another unforced error on the backhand side. But both those minibreaks were lost on two unforced errors and when Zverev put away an overhead, letting out a big roar afterward, it was 5-5. The next point was a long one, with Kumar patiently waiting for the error, and giving Zverev several high deep balls, as well as some slices. Some 20 shots later, Zverev's forehand went wide, giving Kumar a match point on his serve. A big first serve out wide that Zverev couldn't return and it was over, with the usually placid Kumar obviously delighted with the victory.
"I think this is the biggest win of my life," said Kumar, who enjoys playing on clay. "He's number one in the world for a reason, he's a very good player. So I'm very excited."
Kumar believed his position as an underdog helped him play more freely.
"Last night when I saw the draw I told myself I have nothing on me, I got a wild card into this tournament and I'm playing the No. 1 player in the world," said Kumar. "There's no pressure on me. But with that, I definitely knew I had a good chance to win, because I've been playing very well lately. I definitely didn't feel any pressure, even when it got tight in the second and third set tiebreakers."
Kumar was not the only American to take out a seed in Monday's first round, with wild card Deiton Baughman defeating No. 8 seed Marcelo Zormann of Brazil 6-4, 7-6(4) and Julian Zlobinsky outlasting No. 4 seed Quentin Halys of France 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
The three seeded US boys advanced, with No. 3 Stefan Kozlov, No. 5 Michael Mmoh and No. 15 Francis Tiafoe winning in straight sets. Taylor Fritz, AJ Catanzariti also made the second round with victories Monday.
The top two seeds in the girls 18s were idle on Monday, with No. 1 Varvara Flink of Russia and No. 2 Tornado Alicia Black drawn against qualifiers, all of whom received a day off after two matches on Sunday. Mira Ruder-Hook finished her qualifying match delayed by darkness to advance to the main draw, where she will play No. 12 seed Sandra Samir of Egypt Tuesday.
The only two US seeded girls in action Monday lost, with No. 7 seed Johnnise Renaud falling to Natalia Vikhlyantseva of Russia 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 and No. 13 seed Dasha Ivanova dropping a 7-6(9), 6-2 decision to Russian Anastasia Shaulskaya. Olivia Hauger, Emma Higuchi, Chloe Ouellet-Pizer and Sofia Kenin were other US winners Monday.
Naiktha Bains of Australia ousted No. 4 seed Helen Ploskina of Ukraine 7-6(2), 6-4 and Isabella Wallace of Great Britain eliminated No. 8 seed Anastasiya Komardina of Russia 0-6, 6-2, 6-1.
The remainder of the first round of singles in the 18s will be played on Tuesday, along with all 32 doubles matches.
The top seeds in the younger age divisions all cruised to victories in their matches on a cloudy and unusually calm day. Girls 12s No. 1 seed Anastasia Potapova of Russia defeated Hannah Viller Moller of Denmark 6-0, 6-1. No. 1 in the boys 12s, Alexander Zgirovsky of Belarus beat Alejo Lorenzo Lavallen 6-3, 6-1. In the 14s, top girls seed Kayla Day beat Olga Basko of Russia 6-2, 6-0 and top boys seed Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia downed Malik Bhatnagar of Canada 6-1, 6-0. In the 16s, girls No. 1 seed Helen Altick defeated Tatiana Samurgasheva of Armenia 6-2, 6-0, and No. 1 boys seed Yunseong Chung of Korea beat Alexandros Giannakitsidis of the United States 6-0, 6-0. The bottom half of the draws in the 12s, 14s and 16s will be played on Tuesday.
|Wayne Bryan explains the drill for junior participants|
The evening ended with a demonstration of doubles drills with the No. 1 doubles team in the world, Bob and Mike Bryan, courtesy of Prince Tennis. The twins' father Wayne organized a competition with enthusiastic juniors in attendance, and several of the youngsters earned their way on the court with the Bryans. Some of them even managed to win points from the Bryans, which resulted in Wayne commandeering a Sharpie and having his sons sign the ball and give it to the youngsters.
For complete results, see the eddieherr.com website.